Defending your country is ordinarily a full-time job. Recognizing that you may have other commitments and an existing profession, though, all branches of the Armed Forces allow you to serve part-time in the reserves. Your salary is based on being in the military one weekend a month and two weeks a year.
Officers command troops and handle more complex planning tasks, so they receive higher salaries than enlisted personnel. The lowest O-1 grade earns $2,876 a year for three years or less of experience, and an annual $3,619 for four or more years. The O-3 grade has yearly pay of $3,835 for under two years, $4,347 for three to four years, and tops out at $6,240 after 14 years. The highest O-7 level earns $8,182 per year for under two years, $9,671 for eight to ten years, and maxes out at $12,225 after 30 years. Sample ranks for the officer pay grades include second lieutenant for O-1, first lieutenant for O-2, captain or lieutenant for O-3, and brigadier general or rear admiral lower half for O-7.
As a military reservist, you can be called to serve on active duty at any time. In that case, because you work full-time for the Armed Forces, you receive the same pay as any full-time trooper, which also depends on rank and experience. Active duty pay for the O-1 grade runs $3,619 per month for over four years of service and tops out at $4,493 monthly for over 12 years. The O-7 grade starts at $8,182 monthly for under two years and maxxes out at $11,924 per month for over 18 years.
You receive additional benefits as part of your total compensation in the military reserve. Your service branch can pay for your college education, scholarships and repay student loans. Health insurance is available to you and your family at group rates. Your branch can also help find you a civilian job and grant you professional training certification. In addition, after completing 20 years of qualifying service, you can get retirement pay at age 60, plus income from any money you put in the Thrift Savings Program.
In general, women can get any job in the military reserves available to men, including combat positions such as infantry, armor, cavalry and special operations. Because the Pentagon lifted its ban on women in combat only as of January 2013, policies are still evolving, and each branch of service is still developing plans for incorporating women in combat. Until such plans are finalized, restrictions still exist for women. For example, the U.S. Navy does not allow women to join the SEAL or Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewmen teams. In general, both men and women reservists can ask for a delay or exemption from active duty if it leads to financial, mental or physical hardship, or to community hardship. Women who are pregnant, have recently given birth, or adopted a child can also make a request. A request doesn't automatically delay or prevent deployment. The Armed Forces examines each case on its own to make a decision.
- U.S. Army About the Army
- U.S. Defense Finance and Accounting Service: 2013 Monthly Basic Pay
- U.S. Department of Defense: Enlisted Rank Insignia
- U.S. Department of Defense: Officer Rank Insignia
- U.S. News and World Report: Pentagon Lifts Restrictions on Women in Combat
- U.S. Navy: Frequently Asked Questions – Women in the Navy
- U.S. Navy: Mobilization/Demobilization Guide
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